The Common Good

The Institute on Religion and Democracy

The Institute on Religion and Democracy Press Items
Immigration reform legislation will pass Congress by the August recess, predicted Sojourners CEO and President Jim Wallis in an April 28 interview. Wallis sat down with Washington National Cathedral Dean Gary Hall to discuss immigration, gun control, the direction of young evangelical Christians and Wallis’ new book “On God’s Side.”
Just as no history of the Evangelical Right could be written without telling the story of Pat Robertson, the Christian Coalition and the “700 Club,” no history of the Evangelical Left can be written without telling the story of Jim Wallis and his People’s Christian Coalition/Post-American/Sojourners Community and Sojourners Magazine. In Moral Majority: The Evangelical Left in an Age of Conservatism David Swartz takes up Wallis’ story in the third chapter titled, “Jim Wallis and Vietnam.”
Several prominent religious figures are participating in a Washington, DC press conference Tuesday morning, December 4 to advocate “immigration reform” as part of “Forging a New Consensus.” More info here. There are no biblical passages laying out the details of a just immigration policy for the U.S. today. A modern nation like ours is not analogous to ancient Israel, nor are biblical figures easily comparable to contemporary illegal immigrants. Immigration is a complex subject, and there are no easy answers for it, but here are 10 considerations that thoughtful U.S. Christians should bear in mind:
At the conclusion of the “American Dream” lectures, Lisa Sharon Harper of Sojourners debated Kings College professor D. C. Innes on politics, economics, and their interaction with Christianity. Harper started out by directing attention to Adam Smith, father of free market economics. She warned that, in the 1700s, Smith functioned in a rigid Calvinistic theology, replete with a strong moral code and an emphasis on divine predestination. “The invisible just hand of God…moved to bring about the common good,” Harper instructed. Now, free market economics have become an entirely different beast. Harper mourned, “Economics has been disembedded…from the faith…Now the market equals God. We treat it as such: omniscient, self-correcting, etcetera.
On October 16th, the progressive evangelical group Sojourners hosted a discussion panel on young evangelicals and the 2012 election. The conversation was based on recent study by Sojo that analyzed the political priorities and attitudes of evangelical Christians under age 35. The panel included Jenny Yang of World Relief, Jessica Prol of Family Research Council, Rev. Adam Taylor of World Vision, Ben Lowe of Young Evangelicals for Climate Action, Jayme Cloninger of Feed the Children, Christopher LaTondresse of USAID, and Eric Teetsel of the Manhattan Declaration.
One of the courses highlighted was “Christian Faith, Political Action and Public Policy,” which will be taught by Tony Campolo, Ron Sider, and Jim Wallis, who are three of the most prominent voices among the Evangelical Left. According to the informational flier, the course will be “an examination of the contours and intersections of public policy, political action, and Christian faith.” Specific issues will include: “immigration, poverty, the federal budget, a consistent life ethic, Israel and Palestine, civility in public discourse, ecumentical and inter-faith cooperation, organizing a campaign, and running for political office.”
“There are many ordinary days in Washington,” opened Jim Wallis. “I think this is an extraordinary day.”
While millions of Americans added smartphones to their Christmas lists, few consumers understood the heavy price others pay to produce our favorite electronics. Sojourners chief Jim Wallis sent this message loud and clear during a December 19 address at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C.. Sponsored by the Brookings Institution and Global Witness, the event was intended to examine anti-conflict mineral provisions in the 2010 Dodd-Frank Act. Wallis provided a lunchtime keynote speech.
"God doesn’t mind prosperity as long as it is shared," said Jim Wallis, president of the liberal Christian activist group, Sojourners, while debating Arthur Brooks, president of the American Enterprise Institute. Wallis and Brooks debated each other at the Christian Community Development Association (CCDA) conference in Indianapolis on October 13, 2011. Wallis argued that "reducing the deficit is a moral issue," and the government must protect "the safety nets of the poor" because "God doesn’t judge nations by their GNP, by their military fire power, or how much their popular culture is the envy of the world. God says I will judge you by how you treat the most vulnerable in your midst." Wallis said the debate over the economy is not a "debate," but a "dialogue ... about an economy that has become unfair, unsustainable, unstable, and is making many people unhappy."
“Being American is one of the worst bubbles” from which to develop a biblical perspective on politics, according to Jim Wallis. The CEO of the liberal Christian activist group called Sojourners explained that a correct interpretation of the Biblical politics is determined by life experiences. For “white evangelicals” in America, though, that experience is an insulated “bubble.”